1. On 22-7-1961, 22 new wrist watches were seized by the Deputy Superintendent of Central Excise from the resident of the petitioner at Kurnool. They were found in a tin hidden behind a bag containing charcoal. As the wrist watches were new and as there was a restriction on the import of wrist watches, the Central Excise Authorities, being of the prima facie view that the watches had been imported into the country in contravention of the Government of India, Ministry of Commerce and Industry Imports (Control) Order No. 17/55 dated 7-12-1955, called upon the petitioner to show cause why the watches should not be confiscated in accordance with the provisions of Section 167(8) of the Sea Customs Act, 1878. The petitioner alleged that the purchased these watches from some merchants at Madras and in support of his statement produced certain bills. The Central Excise Authorities were satisfied that the purchase of 12 out of 22 watches had been satisfactorily established. Regarding the remaining ten watches, it was found that the dealer who was supposed to have sold them did not exist in fact. Thereupon the Authorities brought this fact to the notice of the petitioner and gave him further opportunity to offer his explanation. The petitioner's further explanation was found to be unsatisfactory and the Assistant Collector by his order dated 18-6-1962 directed confiscation of the ten watches. The appeal preferred to the Collector of Central Excise, Hyderabad and the Revision preferred to the Central Board of Revenue having proved fruitless, the petitioner has come up with this Application for the issue of a writ of certiorari. The principal submission of Mr. Jain, learned Advocate for the petitioner, is that the burden in contravention of the Imports Control Order was on the Department and the fact that the petitioner gave an unsatisfactory or even a false explanation for his possession did not establish that the goods were imported in contravention of the order. He submits that the presumption under Section 178A does not apply since the watches are not among the articles mentioned therein. The importation of watches is not prohibited, but is only restricted. There is no prohibition against the free purchase and sale of imported watches within the country even if they be imported nor is mere possession of imported watches made on offence. In these circumstances, it is clear that from the mere failure of the person in possession of foreign-trade watches to properly account for such possession, it cannot be legitimately inferred that the watches have been imported in contravention of the Imports (Control) Order. The Writ Petition is therefore allowed and the Order of the Assistant Collector dated 18-6-1962 as affirmed by the Collector of Central Exercise and Central Board of Revenue is hereby quashed. The Petitioner is entitled to his costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100/-
2. Petition allowed.